By Greg Densmore; Times Managing Editor
“We had no earthly idea of what we were doing,” admitted David Loesch, Katy Rotarian who took the lead in organizing the event.
“We decided to try it and see what happened,” said Loesch.
What happened was, the Katy Rotary Club captured lightning in a bottle and the Wild West Brewfest has morphed into the club’s most successful fundraiser, generating more than $250,000 in funds over its four-year existence, all which has been donated to local charities and nonprofits.
Not only has the event raised money for those in need, but it has also offered patrons excellent entertainment and the opportunity to taste some outstanding craft beer.
And those involved in the craft been industry have also taken note. Just this past week, the Katy Rotary Club’s Wild West Brewfest was rated as the top beer festival of 2015 by BeerYeti.com, the website dedicated to home brewers and beer enthusiasts. BeerYeti travels the U.S. visiting breweries and beer festivals “to share and educate everyone on everything beer.”
“The Wild West Brewfest is proud to take the top spot for 2015 and the most desired brewfest to attend in 2016 by BeerYeti.com,” said Loesch. “Thanks go to all of our sponsors, volunteers, team members, the Rotary Club of Katy and our patrons for this distinct honor.”
BeerYeti said it was most impressed with the fact that ALL of the net proceeds from the Wild West Brewfest goes back into the community.
”The thing that struck us the most was discovering that all of the net proceeds from the festival went to local charities, with no management fees,” read a news release from BeerYeti. “This year, the event brought in an amazing $113,000, which was given to several charities in the local area — bringing the total amount given away in its short, four-year existence to over $250,000.”
The success of the event can be seen not only in the ever-increasing amount of funds raised, but also in the number of patrons who attend. From the initial 1,700 attendees, the numbers have grown every year: 2,200 patrons in 2013, 3,000 in 2014 and a record-breaking 6,200 visitors this year.
This year’s crowd was boosted when the Katy Rotarians opted to move the event from the Villagio Town Center to Katy Mills.
“We enjoyed our time at Villagio, and they were good to us, but we simply outgrew the venue,” said Loesch.
BeerYeti mentioned the move in their press release.
“They actually took the risk to move to a larger capacity venue at Katy Mills Mall, which definitely paid off for them,” the BeerYeti release said
This year’s event featured a whopping 115 different brewers and more than 345 different beers. Visitors came from 17 states and from places elsewhere, including some from as far away as Netherlands.
In addition to the Brewfest itself, more than 800 people attended the Launch Party, which featured a live auction that netted some $15,000 for charities.
“We are proud that our Brewfest is one of the largest in the country,” said Loesch, “and is manned completely by volunteers.”
Following are some interesting facts about the 2015 Wild West Brewfest:
• The beer tab for this year’s event was more than $43,000;
• The Katy Rotary Club donated $85,000 to charitable organizations;
• 107 brewers took part; and
• More than 360 volunteers helped out.
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